BEMIDJI, Minn. — Shiny new uniforms and a season-high crowd of more than 1,300 fans at the John Glas Fieldhouse had Bemidji State energized in the early moments Friday against Minnesota State.
But a Maverick power-play goal just 3:36 into the game ended that momentum, and from there Minnesota State took a three-goal lead en route to a 3-1 win.
BSU’s Andrew Murray was called for kneeing 2:39 into the first period, and the Mavericks needed just 57 seconds to make the Beavers pay for Murray’s transgression. Dana Sorensen camped out in front of the crease to BSU goaltender Grady Hunt’s left, and took a pass from behind the net. He fired on Hunt, and Hunt appeared to make a stretching glove-hand save, but the puck slipped through his fingers and gave the Mavericks a 1-0 lead at 3:36 of the first.
The game stayed 1-0 until the first five minutes of the second period, when again BSU was punished by a player camped out near the crease. Jeff Marler took a pass from behind the net and squeezed it between Hunt’s glove side and the pipe to give the Mavericks a 2-0 lead at 4:46 of the second.
“Some of these little things happen that you don’t think mean a lot, and bang, the puck is in the back of the net,” BSU head coach Tom Serratore said. “It’s not the guy with the puck who’s dangerous, it’s the guy without it. We forgot that tonight.”
Minnesota State stretched its lead to 3-0 with a Jon Hart even-strength tally at 11:07 of the second. BSU needed just nine seconds to answer that goal getting the second lamp-lighter of the season from freshman Luke Erickson, unassisted, immediately off the ensuing faceoff.
It was all BSU would muster, although the Beavers had plenty of chances to score. The Beavers hit three pipes in the second and third periods alone — giving them six in three home games already this season — and saw Riley Riddell deliver a splendid backhanded pass across the crease to Ryan Huddy, who was staring at the back of Maverick goaltender Kyle Nixon’s jersey and two-thirds of a wide-open net, but Huddy fanned on the pass.
BSU committed eight penalties in the contest, leaving the Beavers on the penalty kill for 16 of the 60 minutes played in the contest. BSU allowed only one goal on Minnesota State’s eight power-play chances, but the penalties came at crucial times during the team’s attempted rally in the latter half of the second and throughout the third periods.
“Penalties will kill any team that has built up momentum,” Serratore said. “We took penalties at inopportune times tonight.”
BSU skated with an empty net for 1:49 of the game’s final 1:59 but was unable to score, leaving Minnesota State with the 3-1 win.
Bemidji State’s seven penalties killed are tied for seventh-most in a game in the team’s Division I era (since 1999), and tied for fourth-most penalties killed in a game it allows a power-play goal.
Bemidji State’s power play continued its early-season woes, as the team went 0-for-5 with the man advantage despite getting off eight shots on goal. Through three games, BSU is now 0-for-15 on the power play, but Serratore plans no changes.
“We have our best players out there, and the chemistry is still there,” he said. “One goal will open up the floodgates.”
Hunt took the loss in goal for BSU. He saved 21 of 24 shots faced in 58:11 of work, falling to 0-2-0 on the season.
Nixon saved 36 of 37 shots faced to earn the win in his season debut for the Mavericks. Hart had a goal and an assist, and Jake Brenk had two assists in the winning effort.
Bemidji State falls to 0-2-1 on the season with the loss, and is winless in its first three games of the year for the second consecutive season and third time in the last five years. Minnesota State picked up its first win of the year and improves to 1-2-0. The teams wrap up their nonconference series Saturday evening, with opening faceoff scheduled for 7:05 p.m. Central time at the John Glas Fieldhouse.